Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Monica and Bill

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Dirck Halstead–who started his photo career  covering the 1954 Guatemalan coup at the age of 17–was already a veteran Time magazine photographer in 1998. When Mr. Halstead first saw news photos of Ms. Lewinsky, as the, he said to himself: “I’ve seen that face. I’ve photographed that face.” So he asked researchers to begin inspecting his photo archives, stored at the University of Texas.

It yielded nothing. So, he hired a researcher to look through 18 boxes, each with 1,000 transparencies, stacked in a Time magazine room. After five days, and roughly 5,000 images, one frame was found. It was taken in the last days of the campaign at an Oct. 23, 1996 fund-raiser at the Washington Sheraton for the Saxophone Club which were young democrats. Time magazine decided to sit on the image for eight months, until Ms. Lewinsky agreed to testify before the grand jury in August 1998. (The photo won the Elsie Award for cover photography).

Within six hours of Time magazine putting out that picture, ABC was able to go into their files and find the video. Once they had the date and event, they had a place to look. The reporters raced to the White House archives to discover what Clinton said on that day; he said these dubious words, “I was tired when I walked in, but I’m not tired any more. You’ve given me a lot of energy.”

Dirck Halstead had this to say about why he remembered Lewinsky’s face and other photographers present at that fund raiser did not: “This goes to the whole point of how we can lose our visual legacy: On that stand with me that night were photographers from AFP, AP and Reuters, and they were all shooting the same thing. The difference is, they were shooting digital.”


Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

July 26, 2009 at 3:00 am

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  1. […] Check out the Iconic Photos blog for more. It is one of my favorites. Here’s Abe Lincoln hanging out at Antietam, looking unreal. Here’s KGB Agent Puting pretending to be a tourist in order to meet Reagan. Here is the most important picture of 1996. […]

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